PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Edwin Diaz’s spring training locker is next to that of his predecessor as Mets closer: Jeurys Familia.
With a lot of players, that situation would be ripe for awkwardness. But with Familia, who said he turned down opportunities to close elsewhere so he could return to the Mets as a setup man, manager Mickey Callaway expects it to be to Diaz’s benefit.
“He’s a terrific kid, and he’s a young kid. He’s going to soak up things from Familia,” Callaway said. “He’s going to lean on Robinson [Cano, his teammate in Seattle] about New York and what to expect, and he’s going to go out there and he’s going to throw the ball very hard, and have a nasty slider, and it’s going to be really fun to watch.”
Diaz met Familia when Familia played for the A’s late last season. “I saw him today, he’s happy to be here with me,” Diaz said. “We’re ready to go. We are a team, so we have to be running together.”
Diaz is the biggest piece of the Mets’ offseason bullpen renovations, a 25-year-old (as of next month) All-Star who led baseball with 57 saves and had a 1.96 ERA in 2018. He throws hard (97 mph on his fastball, on average), strikes more than one-third of the batters he faces and isn’t afraid to show emotion on the mound.
“Our fans will definitely embrace this guy, because he’s high-energy and you have to let him be that,” Callaway said. “He’s going to go out there, he’s going to throw really hard in his first outing, and I’m fine with that.”
Diaz’s philosophy on proving himself to a new team and fan base is simple: “I don’t think about being nervous on the mound. I have to face the hitters and get the outs and try to win games. It’s the same game, different place, but everything stays the same.”
Turns out, Diaz is already a featured attraction among his teammates.
“The starters said, ‘I can’t wait to have him come in after me,’ ” Callaway said. “And the relievers were like, ‘I can’t wait to see this guy in action.’ So there’s not only excitement on his part, but his teammates’ part. So that’s a really good thing.”
Notes & quotes: Callaway said Jason Vargas, who struggled and/or was hurt most of last season but finished relatively strong, is his No. 5 starter. There is no rotation competition. Conversely, prospect Peter Alonso will have to win the first-base job. “He has to earn it, just like everybody else in camp,” Callaway said. “I don’t think they want it any differently.” . . . Callaway was noncommittal about what he expects from Yoenis Cespedes (surgery on his heels) this season . . . The Mets’ on-field activities Wednesday were limited by rain. Pitchers and catchers have their first official workout Thursday . . . David Wright’s spring training locker now belongs to Cano.